Every year 4,500 babies, or one every two hours, are born prematurely - before 40 weeks - in Ireland. Premature babies can be at risk for so many complications; myself and my twin sister were born 6 weeks premature weighing less than a bag of sugar and each time my birthday arrives, my mother never fails to mention of the worry, the fear that my twin and I wouldn't survive. The doctors would try their best to keep us alive, but my parents got no guarantees. Thankfully, two months later we were allowed home, still looking the size of a newborn - that was how small we were to begin with.
A baby is considered premature if it is born before 37 completed weeks gestation. In babies born preterm, the chance of survival at less than 22 weeks is close to zero - at 23 weeks it is 19%, at 24 weeks 40%, at 25 weeks about 66% and at 26 weeks 77%. However, over the past few decades, survival of infants less than 25 weeks has increased.
And new heartwarming research by the Rotunda Hospital has revealed, in time for World Prematurity Day, and for the first time in its neonatal history, all premature babies born at 28 weeks have survived at the hospital.
They also said that with 10 more young lives were saved than in any previous year.
New research at the world's oldest maternity hospital explained the life-saving effect the utilisation of certain drugs and treatment plans has had, with all of the 200 pre-term babies born at 28 weeks surviving in 2017 -the highest number on record.
— Kim Buckley (@KiiimBuckley) November 15, 2018
Commenting on the results, Master of the Rotunda Hospital Professor Fergal Malone said the latest research and significant improvements in care ensured the most vulnerable babies survived.
"One of the main risk factors for preterm birth is having delivered preterm in a prior pregnancy, followed by medical complications such as blood pressure problems during pregnancy or poor fetal growth," he said. "The team at the Rotunda utilises the latest cutting edge research to optimise the early diagnosis of preterm birth, preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction.
"Combined with significant improvements in integrated obstetric and neonatal care, this underpins these excellent outcome results for some of our most vulnerable babies.
"More families than ever now have healthy surviving babies because of continued advances in obstetric and neonatal care at the Rotunda."